by Frank Krist, NMCN Contributing Editor –
The Atlantic salmon program in Lake Huron started in 1986 under an agreement between Lake Superior State University and the DNR. Fish have been stocked in the St. Mary’s River since that time under the direction of Roger Greil, manager of the LSSU’s Aquatic Research Laboratory and Hatchery. Over the years, Roger and his students have developed successful culture techniques and Atlantic salmon survival is currently approximately 10 times better than any other species of salmon or trout stocked in Lake Huron. This excellent return to the fishery inspired much interest in expanding the fishery, but first it had to be determined if large numbers of these fish could be raised in the State’s hatcheries. A recent press release on the DNR website outlines the progress that has been made in raising these fish: this week, nearly 100,000 will be stocked at four locations on Lake Huron. The new sites include stocking 30,000 in the Au Sable River, 20,000 in the Thunder Bay River and 12,300 in the Lexington Harbor while the rest will be released in the St. Mary’s River. These four sites were carefully chosen to determine how this species performs in different types of fishing habitats, from larger rivers to harbors.
One of the most exciting traits of Atlantic salmon is that they provide many opportunities for shore anglers. Atlantic salmon are one of the first species of fish to show up in the spring, usually in late March or early April. They concentrate along piers, rivermouths, and warm water discharges where they can be easily caught without a boat. As summer approaches, the Atlantic salmon move offshore where they can readily be taken by trolling. As midsummer arrives, the mature fish start returning to the stocking sites where they are again available for shore and small boat anglers through the fall and winter. The Atlantic salmon stocked this spring will begin to show up in the fishery next spring after spending only one winter in Lake Huron.
Atlantic salmon are one of the most respected species of fish, drawing anglers from all over the world. One reason for this is that often the first sign of hooking an Atlantic salmon is watching it jump high out of the water. So, if you want to match your angling skills against this exciting fish, by the spring of 2014 there will be several new locations along Lake Huron for you to encounter Atlantic salmon.
Editor’s Note: In addition to the numerous conservation-related activities pursued by both Frank and Theresa Krist, Frank also serves as Chair of the Northern Lake Huron Citizens Fisheries Advisory Committee and was recently recognized by the DNR Fisheries Division with their Outstanding Partner’s Award.